The technological, regulatory, and economic landscape related to plastic use and recycling is rapidly changing. Increased use of plastics and stagnated recycling rates are driving concern about pollution, but also presents an opportunity to highlight waste streams and drive decarbonization of the U.S. economy.

On June 8-9, 2023, in Seattle, WA, the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) and Advanced Materials and Manufacturing Technologies Office (AMMTO) will host Transitioning to a Sustainable, Circular Economy for Plastics, a workshop to convene stakeholders for a discussion of the current challenges and opportunities in transitioning to a sustainable, circular economy for plastics in the United States.


Worldwide attention on plastic pollution is leading to a changing regulatory environment for plastics. Recent governance includes the United Nations Plastic Pollution Treaty negotiations, introduction to recycled content requirements and the concept of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) in different locations, and the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) National Recycling Strategy.  Recent advances in recycling processes from sorting to innovative recycling technologies are being launched at pilot and commercial scales.  In the wake of China's National Sword policy in 2018, most export of recycled plastics from the U.S. stopped. Shifting U.S. markets for recycled plastics are creating a demand for technology advances. Additionally, many companies have announced climate goals which include targets related to recycled content, plastic sustainability, and greenhouse gas emissions, which are driving changes in this dynamic landscape.

These societal and technological changes will impact material selection, product design, and end-of-life for plastics. The huge variety of potential feedstocks, plastics, applications, and end-of-life pathways (different recycling technologies, composting, biodegradation, landfilling) makes the transition from a linear economy to a circular economy for plastics particularly challenging.

The focus of this workshop is to understand which metrics are being used to inform decisions related to plastic sustainability and circularity, as well as what technological gaps exist along the supply chain that would facilitate a more rapid transition from a linear plastic economy. These insights will be used to identify opportunities where investments in research and development can most rapidly and substantially lead to decarbonization.

Workshop Goals/Objectives:

  • Assess the current landscape of plastic sustainability and circularity in the United States
  • Identify metrics that companies are using to assess plastic sustainability and circularity, along with selection drivers
  • Establish supply chain and technology gaps currently limiting transition to a circular plastic economy
  • Identify opportunities for decarbonization with respect to plastics and pathways to achieve them
  • Facilitate collaboration across the entire value chain to accelerate transition to a more sustainable, circular economy for plastics

Desired Workshop Outcomes

  • Direct connections between stakeholders across the value chain to facilitate collaborations to accelerate innovation towards our collective decarbonization and circular economy goals
  • A publicly available, DOE-issued workshop report recording the discussed problems, research ideas, and industry feedback
  • Input to ensure the DOE Strategy for Plastic Innovation evolves with the rapidly changing landscape to reflect current needs and challenges related to plastic sustainability and circularity


Download the agenda (subject to change) for this workshop.

Speaker Bios

View the speaker bios for this workshop.

Conference venue/Accommodations

The workshop will take place in-person in Seattle, WA, at the Westin Seattle, June 8-9, 2023. Register and view accommodations for the workshop here. 


Please direct any questions regarding this workshop to Coralie Backlund (, Jay Fitzgerald (, Kathryn Peretti ( or Michelle Seitz (

NOTICE: This meeting, including all audio and images of participants and presentation materials, may be recorded, saved, edited, distributed, used internally, posted on DOE’s website, or otherwise made publicly available. If you continue to access this meeting and provide such audio or image content, you consent to such use by or on behalf of DOE and the Government for Government purposes and acknowledge that you will not inspect or approve, or be compensated for, such use.